The licensed paramedic is part owner of Angel Care Ambulance Service and she has seen plenty of bleeding bodies.
But when she heard screeching tires last Friday evening in front of her office in the 1200 block of West Corpus Christi Street, she could not believe her eyes.
When a red Dodge pickup crashed into a white Kia Spectra which was pulling out of a private driveway, she saw 5-year-old Tashawn Turner go flying out a window and onto the pavement.
“I was shocked,” Ochoa said later. Seconds later she saw the child’s father, 27-year-old Robert Turner, jump from the vehicle and run from the scene.
“I started to go after him,” Ochoa said. But there was an injured child on the ground, another injured child still inside the vehicle. Her first job was to take care of those who were hurting.
Since that day, the mother of two toddler sons has taken on a new mission, making people aware of the dangers of not properly buckling youngsters into a vehicle.
Neither of the children injured in that accident, Tashawn and his 4-year-old sister, Hailey, were properly buckled into their vehicle that day.
Over the weekend, Ochoa and some supporters made signs and stood at the scene of the accident in an effort to make people aware of the problem of kids riding unprotected in vehicles.
“Within a few minutes, we saw five cars drive by with kids who were not buckled in like they should have been,” Ochoa said Thursday afternoon.
She said one mother was driving down the street with a child sitting in her lap.
She told the story while meeting with law enforcement personnel at the Police Training Center on West Milam Street.
Among those attending the event were Sgt. Armando Garza, acting supervisor of Highway Patrol troopers working Bee County, Trooper Santiago “Jimmy” Montez, Deputy Sgt. Ronnie Jones of the Bee County Sheriff’s Office, Assistant Police Chief Kenneth Jefferson and Police Lt. Mike Willow of the Beeville Police Department, Angel Care co-owner Gabriel Aleman and several Angel Care employees.
Ochoa, who strapped her two sons, Gavin and Gabe, into child seats to show how it is properly done, said Jorge and Star Alvarez had been assisting her in organizing an effort to crack down on violators.
“We’ve already talked to the municipal judge and he’s going to be hard on them,” Jefferson said of parents who violate the law.
Municipal Court Clerk Zenaida Silva said Judge Joe Salinas intends to hit violators with the maximum fine.
“We’re going to fine them $200 plus court costs,” she said. “That’ll be $297.”
Garza and Montez said the state law on buckling children in safety seats is going to get tougher this September and the Texas Department of Public Safety will start warning motorists this summer to get ready for stricter requirements. “Now,” Garza said, any child under five years of age or less than 36 inches tall must be in a safety seat.”
Jefferson said the Beeville Police Department will be posting uniformed officers at undisclosed intersections in the city in the near future to look into vehicles and make sure all children are properly belted in vehicles.
The department intends to continue the practice to keep kids safer on Beeville streets.
Violators who are ticketed by state troopers or deputies will have their cases sent to local justices of the peace and they can expect the same heavy fines that people ticketed in the city will face.
Fortunately, neither child involved in Friday’s accident was killed. However, Ochoa said that is not always the outcome of a serious crash involving children who were not properly secured in a vehicle.
She and other volunteers plan to post banners and tombstones in high traffic locations around the city with the names of children who were killed because they were not properly belted into a vehicle.
“They’re going to say, ‘If mommy and daddy had strapped me in, I’d be alive today.’”